A whale of a goal: Gove to swim 28 1/2 miles

June 16, 2006|by ANDREW MASON

"Don't go swimming for an hour after you eat or you'll get cramps."

Warren Gove will be defying most people's grandmothers on June 24. He's planning to eat all of his meals in the water that day, when he competes for the first time in the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim.

Gove, 51, of Middletown, Md., will have a time limit of 9 1/2 hours to make a complete counter-clockwise circumnavigation of the island of Manhattan in New York. That's 28 1/2 miles of nonstop swimming in 65-degree water. No wetsuits are allowed.

Last weekend, he completed the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim for the seventh consecutive year. That's a 4.4-mile event, and the farthest he's gone at one time.


"I am confident that I can do it," Gove said. "But people (including this sportswriter) keep asking me, 'Do you really think you can do this?' And that's starting to make me think maybe I can't - all the questioning.

"But I'm physically ready."

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Gove trains 2 1/2 hours a day, five days a week, at the Hagerstown YMCA - while many of us are still sleeping.

"I get up about 3:45 a.m. and am at the Y by about 4:45," said Gove, who works at First Data in Hagerstown. "Then, it's an hour of weight training and an hour and a half of swimming. And I'm at my desk by 8."

Gove swam competitively in college at Southern Connecticut State. He got back into the sport eight years ago.

"For me, swimming is somewhat relaxing," he said.

If he completes the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, maybe he'll finally be able to fully relax.

"I've always thought it would be something neat to do," he said. "When I got back into swimming, I started to really think about it. Time is passing, and if I don't make an attempt now, I might not get another chance."

The event also has two-, four- and six-person relay teams. Gove will be one of only 25 swimmers attempting to do it solo. Last year, the event was halted due to lightning. In 2004, 22 solo swimmers finished in the allotted time.

The solo entry fee is $1,265. The prize for winning: Getting your name engraved on a cup.

"That would just be icing on the cake, but I'm not going with that intent," he said. "I just want to finish under 9 1/2 hours. That would be cool."

He'll have his own support boat with a couple of friends onboard to offer encouragement and provide him energy bars, gels and drinks every 30-40 minutes via a net.

"I'll have to tread water while I eat," he said.

His grandmother probably wouldn't approve of this.

Andy Mason is assistant sports editor of The Morning Herald. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2334, or by e-mail at

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